Trenette is the classic shape used for this dish in Liguria, the region where pesto originated, but linguine makes a good substitute. Pesto is classically made in a mortar and pestle- but a food processor makes this quick and easy for a weeknight. Don’t limit your summer pestos to just basil. You can use a combination of soft herbs like parsley, mint, or cilantro, or tender baby greens like arugula, spinach, or kale. This is a wonderful dish for small hands in the kitchen- let them smell the herbs as they pluck the leaves from the stems.
- 4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano, plus more for serving
- 1 pound dried trenette
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of pepper in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse to make a chunky paste. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream to make a smooth pesto.
Add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water. Combine the hot pasta and the pesto in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Toss well, adding enough pasta water to achieve a creamy sauce that coats the pasta. Serve, passing additional cheese at the table.